by Dina Sleiman
I'm going to quickly take you through some of the books I have read, not only this spring, but in the last year in the YA genre.
Perhaps my biggest surprise was to learn that a book I stumbled on last year and looooved, Prophet by R. J. Larsen, is considered Y.A. I gobbled up this book in just a few days and enjoyed every word. I was mesmerized by her strong, courageous, spiritual heroine. I've been looking for an excuse to buy books two and three, and never even realized they were Y.A. until my agent mentioned it to me. (By the way, my agent knew this because she also represents R. J.) These books are called speculative, but I would describe them more as fantasy set in the Biblical era. Whatever they are, they're awesome, and I highly recommend them.
I also gave Twilight a try, something I probably wouldn't have done if it wasn't for research purposes. This book did have a special sort of magic. I couldn't put it down. And yes, it is romantic on an epic scale. While the vampire element seemed completely fantasy-like and didn't bother me, I cannot in good conscience recommend it, especially not for teens.
I felt the message of the book was that love conquers all, even if your boyfriend is inherently evil. Therefore, I felt girls could use this as a justification to get involved with destructive individuals like abusers and addicts. In fact, Edward's craving for Bella's blood is flat-out described as an addiction. There's a very real possibility he might kill her. The impression is given that playing with fire is somehow romantic. Here are just a few dangerous quotes I collected. But don't worry, I'm essentially a selfish creature. I crave your company too much to do what I should. ~ Edward. I refused to be convinced to fear him, no matter how real the danger might be. It doesn't matter, I repeated in my head. ~ Bella. I'm here, which roughly translated, means I would rather die than stay away from you. I'm an idiot. ~ Bella. While I don't think the author had bad intentions, I also do not think she fully thought through her responsibility to her young, impressionable readers.
And I can't finish without mentioning that I've been reading an in-progress YA dystopian by our own Gina Welborn. Whoop! Whoop! It's so great, I can't wait for her to finish and find a publisher so you all can read it. I'll also keep you posted on the status of my own YA novel, the first in a series of action-packed medievals featuring strong female characters in traditional male roles.
What YA novels have you found and loved? Any you wouldn't recommend?
Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an honorable mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Her latest novel, Love in Three-Quarter Time, is the launch title for the new Zondervan First imprint. Dina is a contributing author at Inkwell Inspirations, Colonial Quills, iflourishonline.com, a part-time acquistions editor for WhiteFire Publishing, and she is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/